Hot Reads: Early Signing Entropy
Photo Credit: John Gutierrez - USA TODAY Sports

Hot Reads: Early Signing Entropy

December 19, 2017

Starting tomorrow, football recruits can sign with their schools of choice for three days. Nobody knows exactly what to expect, but we’re all doing our best to prepare for something that hasn’t happened before. It’s sort of like college football’s Y2K. Maybe everything will be fine, though there seems to be plenty of hand-wringing and chagrin  over it from the coaching side.

But as Uncle Ellis says: “You can’t stop what’s coming. They ain’t all waiting on you. That’s vanity.”

Hail Varsity recruiting analyst Greg Smith put together two helpful stories on what to expect from early signing from the Nebraska perspective. Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports also provided a good, national-level overview of how much this has changed things for coaches.

Here’s sort of the big-picture snippet that gives you the broadest view of what coaches are thinking at this moment:


The biggest question coaches still have is what percentage of players will sign this week? No one is sure, but all signs point to a high percentage. Ohio State expects to sign all of its recruits on Wednesday. So does Boston College. Tulane expects to sign all but two or three. Texas coach Tom Herman and Syracuse’s Dino Babers told Yahoo Sports they expect to ink two thirds of their recruits. Established coaches don’t want to babysit recruits for another month, so having them sign and focusing their energy on the 2019 class makes sense.

For new staffs, the dynamic is much different. Many are scrambling to get recruits to delay their commitments, which would give recruits a chance to visit campus in January where the coaching staff can convince them to flip. Rice’s Mike Bloomgren, who took over on Dec. 7, is lobbying potential recruits to pump the brakes: “We’re trying to convince guys not to sign and give us an at-bat in January,” Bloomgren told Yahoo Sports.


But there’s some good detail in that Thamel piece, too. Texas Coach Tom Herman shares his insane travel schedule from recent weeks – Scott Frost’s had to have been similar, if not worse – and says, “You are literally living two days every day.”

If you always found the practice of assistant coaches jumping ship after signing day unfortunate at best or unconscionable at worst, this year, which will also stack adding a 10th coach on top of this new signing period, is going to be unpleasant for you. Industry sources told Thamel to be ready for as many as 400 assistants changing jobs once early signing is over.

There is a theory out there that this early signing period will be better for non-recruiting powers. It could eliminate the last-minute flip, which tends to flow down the food chain (i.e. 4-star defensive end picks Auburn over Alabama so Alabama pries its second-choice defensive end away from Virginia Tech, where he was one of the jewels of the class, and the Hokies pluck one of the best players from Appalachian State’s class and so on). It may not be quite that ideal this year for UAB or Ohio, however. Both schools are out of the country preparing for the Bahamas Bowl, which is played on Dec. 22, the last day of the early signing window.

Still a lot to figure out with this new college football calendar. Given the coaching change, we won’t really know how Nebraska will attack the early signing period until next December. Right now the Huskers staff is just trying to navigate it while preparing its former team for one more game and stocking its future team for many more. It has to be a scramble, though that may not be much different than how everyone else is feeling.

The Grab Bag

  • The Toledo Blade is reporting that Carl Pelini will become the new defensive coordinator at Bowling Green. He spent the past three seasons at Youngstown State.
  • Anyone interested in an eight-part oral history of Tennessee's coaching search? At my house this might replace the annual reading of "A Visit from St. Nicholas."
  • Adam Rittenberg of ESPN recaps the coaching carousel and has some good things to say about Nebraska AD Bill Moos.
  • ICYMI: They didn't have much choice, but the coaches put Nebraska atop the final AVCA poll. It was the Huskers' first No. 1 ranking of the season.

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